Ginataang Alimasag sa Kalabasa (Sand Crabs in Coconut Milk and Squash)

Where I grew up in the Phils. nearby barrios were surrounded by coconut trees. My grandparents so happened to be farmers growing coconut trees as their main source of livelihood. They would usually bring home coconuts from the farm hence, we always have plenty of coconuts for cooking “ginataang” vegetables, desserts and merienda delights but shrimps or crabs I remember was too rare. Only when my aunts from the nearby town brought us on occasions like fiestas and birthdays as they live nearby seashores.

And nowadays that we are currently in a place where seafoods are quiet affordable I always have a choice of what to cook for a yummy “ginataang” main dish.  We had a leftover of steamed crabs the other day and I don’t want to serve it heated as it is for the second time and so I turned it into ginataang alimasag sa kalabasa.

Ginataang Alimasag is a savory crab dish in creamy coconut sauce with vegetables depending on one’s personal choice.You will find a lot of different versions of this recipe, but they’re practically the same except for the vegetable that comes with it. The base ingredients are crabs, coconut cream or kakang gata, garlic, onion, ginger and your choice of seasoning between fish sauce (patis) or shrimp paste (bagoong). Basically, we want vegetables that can soak up and absorb the richness and creaminess of the sauce, or any of your favorite vegetables will do but I prefer “kalabasa” or squash  for my “ginataang alimasag” and fish sauce as my seasoning.  Try the recipe below:

Ginataang Alimasag sa Kalabasa

Ginataang Alimasag sa Kalabasa


  • 3 medium cooked sand crabs (approx. 1/2 kg.)
  • a pinch of salt
  • 2 tbsp. cooking oil
  • 2 big cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 thumb size peeled ginger, minced
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 1/2 squash or kalabasa (deseeded/peeled/cubed)
  • 1 large can  (about 400ml.) coconut milk
  • 1 1/2 tbsp.  fish sauce (patis)
  • 2 pcs. green chili finger, chopped
  • pinch of pepper
  • 2 stalks of onion leaves, chopped

Cooking Procedure

  1. Wash and steam the crabs with a pinch salt in a casserole for 5 minutes. Let cool and cut into halves. Set aside.
  2. Heat oil, sauté garlic, ginger, onion and cook till onion slices are translucent.
  3. Add the squash and coconut milk. Bring to a boil. Season with fish sauce.
  4. Mix in the cooked crabs and chopped green chili finger.  Simmer until squash are softened and cooked but not mushy, about 5-8 minutes.
  5. Season with pepper, onion leaves and serve hot with rice.

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